Racing Department Blog: three quarter update

02 Nov 16

This edition of the BHA Racing Department blog features a discussion of the most recent racing data pack which covers the first three quarters of 2016, the Jump mares’ programme, re-balancing of midweek prize money and the autumn programme of quality Sunday Jump racing.

Racing Statistics

The data published in this blog looks at racing’s core statistics for the first nine months of 2016, compared with the same period over the last four years.

The blog published in July provided the half-year update and showed some improvements in the core racing statistics which are used to monitor the health of British racing. The July blog highlighted small increases in average field sizes during the current year, which from 2012-2015 had been on a downward trend. This is directly relevant to the health of the sport as small field sizes have a negative impact on betting markets. At the end of July the average field size was 8.75, a position that has remained static after the third quarter.


Average Field Size
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Flat 9.45 8.82 8.72 8.82 8.88
Jump 8.93 8.99 8.34 8.37 8.49
All 9.28 8.87 8.60 8.67 8.75


Alongside average field sizes, the “success” rate (races with greater than seven runners) and “failure” rate (races with fewer than six runners) is also reviewed.


Failure Rate
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Flat 10.6% 14.5% 13.4% 12.2% 11.4%
Jump 17.0% 15.5% 19.5% 16.4% 18.2%
Total 12.7% 14.9% 15.4% 13.6% 13.7%


Failure rates have continued to improve on the Flat this year, although the percentage of Jump races with fewer than six runners has increased. The Jump number was particularly affected by the soft ground conditions earlier in the year when over 23% of Jump races fell short of six runners during the first quarter.

Nine Month Stage

2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Flat 5,428 4,948 5,058 4,749 4,915
Jump 1,816 1,920 1,639 1,589 1,921
Total 7,244 6,868 6,697 6,338 6,836


Conversely, the July blog highlighted the increasing number of non-runners, particularly in Jump racing, which, at the six-month stage was up by 300 on the previous year. While this may have been impacted to some extent by the prolonged wet weather in February and March, this was a matter of concern to us and prompted an ongoing review to investigate the issue. At the nine-month stage the number of jump non-runners is 332 higher than at the same point in 2015, while on the flat, there has been 166 more non-runners than there were in 2015. This is not just a going related issue, however, with a 15% increase in non-runners in All-Weather races during the first nine months of the year.

The Jump Programme for Mares

In recent years the BHA have focused on enhancing the Jump programme for mares. A number of key developments have been made at both Listed level and below for the 2016/2017 Jump season. There are now six Pattern races and 23 Listed races for mares in 2017 including the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, run as a Grade 1 since 2015. Programme enhancements also include the introduction of a mares’ chase category to the Challenger Series, which will accompany the existing mares’ hurdle and an additional four Listed mares’ chases at Leicester, Market Rasen, Bangor-on-Dee and Warwick, which bring the total to eight for this season.


Mares Pattern & Listed Races
Bumpers 4
Hurdle 17
Chase 8


Hopefully, as these races settle into the programme they will achieve their objective of providing an incentive to owners and trainers to keep mares in training and in turn, alongside this, the Racing Department will continue to encourage the controlled enhancement of the programme in order to provide a robust programme of opportunities for mares, in order to provide suitable opportunities for those already in training as well as attracting additional mares into training. These objectives also support our industry Strategy for Growth targets to grow the number of owners and their horses in training.

£50,000 Cards- Lead Fixture Fund

Sun-Thurs afternoon total prize fund commitments by year 2015 2017 % change
Days with £50k+ card 155 194 +25%
Days without £50k+ card 104 65 -38%


A big positive in the coming Fixture List is the large increase in days between Sunday and Thursday which feature a £50,000+ card. This has increased from 155 days in 2015 to a scheduled 194 days in 2017. As a consequence of this, the number of days without a £50,000+ card will decline from 104 to 65.

This is a result of the Lead Fixture Fund which was set up to encourage a better distribution of prize money between race days following changes proposed by the Fixtures Group and agreed by the Executive Committee. The new fund has encouraged racecourses to spread prize money in a different way, with a focus on bolstering Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, and has consequently led to an improved balance of quality through the week.

Quality Autumn Sunday Jump Racing

With recent additions at Chepstow and Sandown, plus additional tweaks to existing fixtures, the autumn Sunday Jumps programme now has some real highlights, with at least one Pattern or Listed race from 9 October to 4 December, barring 20 November. These improvements are a positive step towards improving the quality of our Sunday programme and we hope that the results from these meetings will encourage further investment in Sunday Racing.

To summarise, the data discussed in this blog shows some progress in a number of key areas but also highlights areas of concern, with the current rate of non-runners being a major focus. Away from the data, improvements to the mares programme will hopefully be seen to good effect as the jump season progresses and more immediately we can look forward to some high quality Sunday racing.

Looking further forward into 2017, the introduction of the Lead Fixture Fund looks to have delivered an improved balance of quality throughout the week for 2017 under both codes, something which it is anticipated will be an improvement for the sport.

The full racing data pack can be found here.